Race Review: Run Free Singapore

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Run Free Singapore took place this morning at the Gardens By the Bay (East).

Run Free aims to change the impression that running events come with a cost.

Run Free is a running event that is FREE for all. It aims to break the stereotype that a running race comes with some costs. So this run adopted the no-frills running concept that allows every runner to take part in the run at no cost, and at the same time offering the freedom to purchase the add-ons that you wish to enjoy. The race idea was conceptualised by X-Change Republic and sponsored by Alpha Romeo and it had consisted of two categories, 5km and 10km.

An interesting race concept

My interest was piqued when I heard about the Run Free concept.

When I had first heard about this Run Free, I must admit that my interest had been immediately piqued and I found myself wanting to find out more, as this had been the first time that I was hearing about a running event that had no participation fee.

Other runners who had taken part in Run Free also loved the idea. Said Andy Smith, 29, a Project Manager, “It’s quite nice that you can run without paying for the race bib and stuff. I have so many running tee shirts at home that it’s good not to have to buy another one. With Run Free, I like to be given the option not to buy the tee shirt or goodie bag, but still do a competitive run.”

Volunteers are on-site in the early hours of the morning.

Agreed Deborah Jensen, 50, a banker, “I think that the concept of free, where people don’t pay to take part is good, because it will make people who normally don’t think about running, be inspired to try out the event. The atmosphere and running with people may also promote such people’s interest in running so this event is a fantastic idea.”

Took part in the 10km

The 10km flagged off promptly.

I took part in the 10km event under the Run Free package deal which had included the following:

  • Event Tee Shirt
  • Event Singlet
  • Personalised Race Bib + Timing Chip
  • Finisher Medal
  • Bag Deposit Service

Lots of photo opportunities

A runner on the route.

The 10km race flagged off at 7.15am. I reached the race site early so I had time to take some photos and familiarise myself with the layout of the race village. I had noticed that despite this being a no-frills run, there were plenty of opportunities for runners to take photos with the onsite standees and even a couple of Alpha Romeo cars. As there were no queues, I quickly took some pictures before the crowd had arrived.

I headed into the starting pen at about 6.40am and there was energetic music playing from the loudspeakers to keep the runners entertained. This continued until a couple of minutes before flag off, when Alex Loh from X-Change Republic came to the front of the starting pen and then briefly explained the concept of Run Free to us, before giving the signal to flag us off.

Runners.

Apparently about 6,000 people had registered up for the run and Loh had admitted to the crowd present too, that he was overwhelmed by the large turnout.

Refreshing

Runners at the Pocari Sweat photo booth

It was quite refreshing and at the same time, a big change from most running events – which usually have celebrity emcees to hype up runners and at the same time, to try and create a vibrant mood and the atmosphere. In fact some runners had playfully laughed when Loh explained to us why Run Free had done away with the celebrity emcees.

Straightforward route

Supporters at Run Free.

The route was fairly straightforward, it was a 10km out-and-back route from Gardens by the Bay (East) through Marina Barrage and Marina Bay Sands before u-turning and heading back to where we had come from. It is a route that I am fairly familiar with, as I run in the area regularly.

However the route was not closed to runners; as a result there were some cyclists who were also using the area and this may have been a bit dangerous to runners who did not keep a lookout on where they were heading.

Running along the Gardens By The Bay park connectors.

Agreed Kai Oertel, 52, a Research Engineer, “The route and logistics were good; it was a scenic run, but a bit dangerous with the bikes on the track to take care of. But otherwise it was fine, and well organised.”

But that said though, the paths were quite clear and there were no bottlenecks. It was quite smooth for running and I found myself rather enjoying the race, keeping my heart rate in a comfortable easy/steady zone.

Me running along the route.

A humid morning

Weather wise, the relatively early 7.15am start had ensured that it was not too hot for running but it had felt pretty humid though and I was feeling a bit sleepy so that didn’t really help me in terms of my running either. So I chose to take it easy and run this race aerobically. But I managed to maintain a pretty steady pace throughout the 10km of running.

Lots of hydration

Pocari Sweat provided the hydration for the event.

But there was plenty of hydration. Runners were provided with both ice cold water and Pocari Sweat which was really good. The 10km route had four hydration points for runners. However perhaps different cups could have been used to give out the water and the Pocari Sweat though; in fact, Deborah had even thought there was no water available.

Signages were well placed

Runners approaching the finish line.

The signages to mark the route and the u-turns were well placed and hard to miss. So it would not be easy for runners to get lost during this race. As well, there were some kilometre signages. Though these were not positioned at every kilometre, the ones that I noticed had been accurately placed.

But I must point out that the route had been a little bit short when I got to the end of the race; my watch had clocked in at 9.4km. I had not chosen to go all out at this race so despite this, I didn’t run a personal best.

We saw the finish line at 9.4km.

Free flow Pocari Sweat

There was free flow of Pocari Sweat for runners post-race. It was refreshing to know that unlike other races I have been to, the Pocari Sweat had not been limited to one bottle per runner. I was feeling quite thirsty so I eagerly took a couple of bottles.

Post Race Village

After the race, there were photo booths as well as merchandise booths, for runners who wanted to buy merchandise. I saw long queues of runners waiting to not only take pictures but also to buy merchandise such as tee shirts and singlets.

Long queues at the merchandise booths.

I queued up at the race village to receive my race medal. The queue was quite short and it took me only a few minutes of waiting. However I had to check with the organisers at which queue was which before I had joined the line, as there had been several queues and it wasn’t clearly indicated at which line was for what.

Spidey

Lots of participants were also hanging around catching up with friends and colleagues and chatting to them after the race. I caught up with some of my friends afterwards too and we took a few photos together to mark the memories.

Organiser mingling around with the runners

Runners show off their medals.

As Loh had told me later when I introduced myself to him after the race, he was surprised that runners had chosen to stay around instead of to head straight home after they were done running and he had been pleasantly happy by this.

And I thought it was good that the organiser was mingling with the runners, asking us how the race was and taking in feedback for future improvement. It is not common to see the race organisers doing this and being so approachable to their participants.

Alex Loh from X-Change Republic is the event organiser.

Run Free has done a great job

Overall I would say that Run Free Singapore had done a great job with the event. It had been a simple, fuss-free and enjoyable run that meets the expectations of all types of runners. I am now looking forward to the next edition of this race.

Runners have felt the Run Free organisers did a good job.

Other runners also had a pleasant experience at the inaugural Run Free Singapore. Said Brijesh Sharma, 42, an executive director at a trading company who was taking part in his first running event, “It was fantastic. I finished the race in one hour. Everything was well organised; it was good and there was no congestion.”

He added, “I liked everything about this run and having so many other people running around me made me feel more energetic. It was much better than running alone and I can see myself joining in more running events now.”

I now find myself looking forward to next year’s edition of Run Free.

Kai had also shared the same sentiments. Said Kai, “It was easy to run and was not overcrowded. I was here with some colleagues so it was nice to run with friends and at an event with other people; I usually run by myself so that was quite a big change for me.”

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